[lit-ideas] Re: Donnellaniana

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:35:57 +0100

Actually Ryle in "Systematically misleading expressions" throws some light
on the issue of the ever-recurring bald king of France.

The king of France is bald = There is such X that is a king of France and

Where the statement is clearly false for every state of affairs in which
the king of France is non- existent. Unfortunately, the issue of the
non-existing king of France wearing a wig is not tackled, perhaps because
it was thought too trivial to address, but I am just guessing.


On Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 2:26 PM, Redacted sender Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx for
DMARC <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Why Donnellan chose to refute Strawson (and Russell) -- in their "On
> referring" and "On denoting" respectively -- is an interesting step in the
> history of analytic philosophy alla Grice.
> Indeed, for Grice, the debate around what Whitehead and Russell call 'the
> iota operator' and which roughly translates as "the", runs along the lines
> of  his 'Logic & Conversation'.
> It is solved by posing, precisely,a distinction between utterer's  meaning
> - the conversational implicature-level (what a neo-traditionalist like
> Strawson, an 'informalist' or 'neo-traditionalist' is attempting
> elucidate, but
> failing ) - and the truth-conditional semantic component (the Russellian
> component of the 'modernist' or 'formalist'). We cannot speak of
> truth-functionality here since the iota operator is NOT a
> truth-functional  operator.
> Indeed, in the second William James Lecture, among the formal  devices
> mentioned by Grice is the 'iota operator' ('(iota x)') and its
> natural-language
> counterpart, 'the'.
> He goes into detail on these matters, not so much in the William James
> lectures, but in his "'Presupposition & Conversational Implicature"
> (where  he
> refutes Strawson's solution involving a truth-value gap), "Vacuous Names"
> and  "Definite descriptions in Russell and in the vernacular".
> Grice develops a conversational-pragmatic treatment of
> i. The king of France is bald.
> in terms, not of truth-value gaps as Strawson would have it, but standard
> truth-conditional semantics (the Russellian tripartite analysis of the
> above) PLUS conversational implicature - notably by appeal to the
> conversational maxim falling under the category of Manner (or
> Perspicuity):  "Frame
> whatever you say in the form most suitable for any repl that would be
> regarded
> as appropriate".
> As if a conversation would proceed:
> ii. A: The king of France is bald.
>     B: He is not!
>     A: Well, he doesn't have any hair!
>     B: That's not the king of France. He is the  PRESIDENT of France: De
> Gaulle.
> Strawson's original example was
> iii. The king (or president) of France is _wise_.
> but Grice preferred to stick with Russell's original example, since it was
> trickier.
> Russell played with
> iv. The king of France is bald, but he wears a wig.
> This inspired Dummett, who expanded on the scenario.
> v. For that matter, we might just as well claim that the Queen of England,
> Elizabeth I, was bald, and wore a wig. (I mean, how can we verify the
> past?)
> Grice's treatment, which also avails of the notion of "common ground
> status" something like "mutual knowledge" -- only that it can be false  --
> as
> discussed by philosophers more in connection with 'presupposition'
> (notably
> the ontological commitment of existential presupposition) rather than
> 'definite description,' though.
> But surely Grice is trying to show that Strawson's 'presupposition' does
> not exist, and it's a mere conversational implicature (Indeed, Strawson
> used
> 'imply' instead of 'presuppose' in "On referring").
> In "Vacuous Names", an irreverent tribute to Quine repr. in "Words and
> Objections", Grice considers the
> issue, developing a formal system for the  treatment of conversational
> pragmatics, which he calls system Q (later  re-labelled system G by Grice's
> disciple, George Myro).
> Grice makes some interesting remarks re: the pragmatics of  descriptions,
> as they may trigger the use of names.
> This he does in the tenth section, entitled, 'Names & Definite
> Descriptions'.
> In 'Definite Descriptions in Russell & in The Vernacular' he goes  on to
> defend Russell explicitly. Grice implicates Russell did not speak the
> vernacular as well as HE did!
> Bealer, who went to Reed, has dwelt on these matters in his "Quality and
> Concept". Bealer relies on the notion of a pragmatically complete vs
> semantically incomplete symbol:
> Bealer writes:
> "On the  picture that emerges [from Grice's work], although definite
> descriptions  usually DO HAVE A REFERENCE, REFERRING, unlike NAMING, is a
> PRAGMATIC  relation, not a semantic relation. Thus, definite descriptions,
> while
> pragmatically complete symbols (they typically refer in conversational
> contexts), are semantically INCOMPLETE: their being co-referential in
> conversational context does not make them alike in any kind of genuine
> semantic
> meaning. Even if definite descriptions were taken as semantically  COMPLETE
> symbols, one would intuitively not want to say that they NAME  anything
> (only
> names name).  They would be more like predicates and  sentences: they would
> express something, and what they MEAN would be what  they express. But what
> about REFERRING? True enough, if definite  descriptions were semantically
> COMPLETE symbols, referring would seem to be  a semantic relation. But it
> would be
> only a DERIVED relation, defined as  follows. E refers to x iff
> 1. If E is a definite description, x = whatever E  EXPRESSES.
> 2. If E is a name, x = whatever E NAMES.
> This would be  all there is to the commonsense theory of REFERENCE since
> predicates and  sentences intuitively do NOT refer. On this account, then,
> there is still  only one fundamental kind of meaning, and it partitions
> into
> naming and  expressing. ... [In this account] Our model structures would
> need
> appropriate  predication and relativised predication operations.
> From a historical point of view, we should add further keywords here: not
> just GRICE and DONNELLAN, but KRIPKE and BARCAN MARCUS, since the whole
> picture  should provide a detailed historical development of these views.
> Cheers,
> Speranza
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